How Matte Finishes Affect The Repair Plan

Automotive coatings continue to be an ever-evolving aspect of vehicles. In the beginning, it was only about corrosion protection and not appearance. Now color has become a major factor in vehicle sales, driving OEMs to offer the latest and greatest finishes to their vehicle line up. One trend is the increasing use of matte finishes.

Matte finishes have been around for many years, especially in the hot rod community. Later the muscle car era offered matte black hoods, spoilers, and stripes. Now matte finishes are not only for the upper echelon of super cars, but we’re seeing the introduction of more mass-produced vehicles offering these finishes. The question is, what are the challenges with returning these vehicles back to their original appearance?

Matte finishes require a different repair approach compared to a typical gloss finish. One driving factor is the inability to repair minor defects such as dirt nibs. Before you begin, there are many aspects to consider such as repair location, gloss of the repair area, and underlying color. Once you’ve determined the correct color based on the manufacture paint code, the color must be confirmed.

A technique for choosing the best color is selecting a small area that will be refinished and wet sanding and buffing to reveal the underlying color. A test panel should be done to confirm the color with the desired matte clearcoat gloss level. Many paint makers offer mixing instructions for gloss ranges with corresponding chips to help in this selection. When making a test panel, make sure to follow dry times, solvent selection, overlap, and other requirements following the paint makers technical data sheets.

So, how do matte finishes affect the repair plan? Consider the number of variables that go into the: application process, not being able to blend, and not being able to buff the clearcoat. The repair area and shape of the vehicle may require larger areas to be refinished since blending or buffing will not be possible. The preparation process is especially important for a defect-free repair. Paint booth cleanliness, vehicle cleanliness, and airline maintenance are essential to avoid unrepairable defects.

The takeaways are that matte finishes are becoming more popular and will likely be around for years to come. Collison repair facilities will continually be challenged to be proactive in repair planning and meticulously clean throughout the work area.

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